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Houston Emergency Opioid Engagement System (HEROES)
Support for Family & Friends of loved ones with Addiction

The Houston Emergency Opioid Engagement System (HEROES) understands that the disease of addiction impacts family, friends, and loved ones. The HEROES Program is here to help support, share information, and answer questions. Please use the contact form and someone from our staff will connect with you, or sign up to join our family support group.

Addiction Overview

Addiction is a complex disease of the brain and body that involves compulsive use of one or more substances despite serious health and social consequences. Addiction disrupts regions of the brain that are responsible for reward, motivation, learning, judgment and memory. It damages various body systems as well as families, relationships, schools, workplaces and neighborhoods.


DISEASE OF ADDICTION




Medication Treatment

Since addiction is a brain disease, it helps explain why people need treatment at all – why most people cannot just stop. Addiction is a complex bio-behavioral disorder whose development and expression depend heavily on social context, addiction treatment inevitably has different components. The symptoms of this brain disease go beyond simply using a lot of substances. Addiction has diverse medical, behavioral, and social consequences that affect one’s ability to function in virtually every life domain. Thus, the target outcome for treatment is not just reducing substance use; it must be restoring the individual to full functioning in the family, at work, and in society. The best treatments combine – as appropriate to the individual—medications, behavioral therapies, and necessary psychosocial services, including peer recovery support services.





Family Dynamics

Addiction is a family disease that stresses the family to the breaking point, impacts the stability of the home, the family’s unity, mental health, finances, and overall family dynamics. Addiction can totally disrupt family life and cause harmful effects that can last a lifetime. The disease of addiction affects the family on several levels. Families have a remarkable ability to maintain what family therapists call homeostasis. But when alcohol or drugs are introduced into a family system, the family’s ability to regulate its emotional and behavioral functioning is severely challenged. The family will generally reach as a unit to balance itself. In homes with substance abuse, this may become a dysfunctional sort of balance.

Family members can become subsumed by the disease to such an extent they lose their sense of normal. Their life becomes about hiding the truth from themselves, their children and their relational world. Trust and faith in an orderly and predictable world can be challenged as their family life becomes chaotic, promises are broken and those they depend upon for support and stability behave in untrustworthy ways. Because the disease is progressive, family members seamlessly slip into patterns of relating that become increasingly more dysfunctional. The spouse without substance dependence, parents, or children are often forced to ignore their own needs, as well as the needs of other members, as they seek, for example, to avoid confrontations with the substance using family member, to excuse or cover up their problematic behaviors, or to deal with the financial consequences of it. Family rules that formerly provided safety and predictability are no longer working, and new rules gradually emerge.

Family members consciously and unconsciously develop behaviors and coping mechanisms to adapt to and soften the impact of the addiction on their dependent loved one and themselves. These rules, which grow out of desperation to keep the family unit together, are usually unhealthy. Yet even though these new rules are adversely affecting the wellbeing of family members, they eventually become a central organizing feature of the family system.

Caregiver Support

Other Resources

Contact Us

The Houston Emergency Opioid Engagement System (HEROES) understands that the disease of addiction impacts family, friends, and loved ones. The HEROES Program is here to help support, share information, and answer questions. Please use the contact form and someone from our staff will connect with you, or sign up to join our family support group.

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